RE/MAX 440
Dale Joy
dalejoy1@verizon.net
Dale Joy
4092 Skippack Pike, P.O. Box 880
Skippack  PA 19474
PH: 610-584-1160
O: 610-584-1160
C: 215-460-5153
F: 267-354-6852 
Welcome Home from RE/MAX 440!

My Blog

Attitudes Toward Economy Improving, Says Survey

February 22, 2012 3:34 am

According to the latest Harris Poll online survey of 2,056 adults, the general feeling toward the economy and employment is gradually improving. 

Over one-third of Americans (36 percent) say they expect the economy to improve in the coming year while two in five (40 percent) say it will remain the same and one-quarter (24 percent) believe it will get worse. These statistics are based on December survey results when one-quarter of U.S. adults (23 percent) believed the economy would improve, almost half (47 percent) felt it would stay the same and three in ten (29 percent) thought it would get worse. 

Perceptions of the job market are also improving, albeit a little more slowly. Three in five Americans (59 percent) rate the current job market of their region of the country as bad, 16percent say it is good and one-quarter (25 percent) say it is neither good nor bad. In January, almost two-thirds of U.S. adults (65 percent) felt the job market in their region was bad and 14percent felt it was good. This is the first time since July of 2008 that the percentage of those who think the job market in their region is bad is below 60 percent. 

Looking ahead, there is also a sense of optimism on where the job market is heading. One-third of Americans (32 percent) believe the job market in their region of the nation will get better in the next six months, half (51 percent) say it will stay the same and 17 percent believe it will get worse. Last month, just one-quarter (27 percent) felt the job market would get better, over half (53 percent) felt it would remain the same and one in five (21 percent) felt it would get worse. 

Finally, feelings about whether the country is still in a recession or not are also improving. In September, seven in ten Americans (69 percent) felt the country was still in a recession, while one in ten each felt that the U.S. came out of a recession but will now enter a new recession (11 percent) and the country has come out of the recession and the economy is growing (10 percent). A few months later and, while over half of Americans (56percent) still think the country is in a recession, one-quarter (24 percent) believe the country has come out of the recession and the economy is growing and just 8 percent believe the U.S. has come out of a recession but will enter a new one.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

A Fresh Assessment

February 21, 2012 3:34 am

By Keith Loria

Let’s say you just purchased a new home that has a large property tax commitment. You may be able to do something about it. In today’s housing market, having the property reassessed is very in vogue.

“A tax assessment is an estimate on the value of your property solely for the purpose of determining how much you owe in property taxes,” says Peter Hoegen, an attorney with Hoegen & Associates, PC in Pennsylvania who specializes in tax assessments.

It’s a good bet that you may have bought the house for a price lower than the property value, so sometimes taxes can be lowered if the value has changed.

Not that it’s only about the taxes. Another reason for a reassessment is for insurance purposes, to make sure the home has an appropriate level of coverage. A third reason might be due to the changes in value that the downturn in the economy has caused.

For those who may be thinking of selling, an assessment is a good way to learn if the house is worth more than one even owes, and can provide valuable data for one looking to get a lower mortgage rate.
“If you are thinking of having your home assessed for possible readjusting of the value, it’s important to understand the protocols and timelines that your city or state has, because all are different,” Hoegen says.

The first step is to begin with the county assessor’s office. In 2012, the process has become much simpler for some, as more places are allowing you to appeal online. If that’s not an option, plan a visit to your local assessor’s office to register for an appeal.

The most common way this is done is by someone coming out and inspecting the property and comparing it to neighboring houses. Some will rely on computer models, but that could be problematic because you’re not seeing everything that can be viewed with the naked eye.

Although the appeal process itself can be relatively quick if it’s clear that a change needs to be made, actually having someone come out to your property to perform the assessment can take anywhere from a month to a year, depending on the amount of people following suit. In today’s housing market, with property values decreasing in many areas, more people are turning to reassessments to get their taxes down.

When making your case for a lower value, have at the ready documents that show what homes in the neighborhood have sold for. Prices of comparable homes that have sold in the past six months up to a year will be most helpful to build your case. Much of this data can be found on the Internet, but your real estate agent who helped you buy the home can help as well.

Remember, assessed value is often not equal to market value. Many times, an assessment is only a percentage of what the home could actually be sold for, so appealing might not be as financially advantageous as you think it will be. The last thing you want is for your taxes to rise because the house is worth more.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Gen Y to Spur Real Estate Growth

February 21, 2012 3:34 am

According to experts with the University of Southern California Lusk Center for Real Estate, population growth and demographic shifts, particularly the ongoing maturation of a diverse, well-educated Gen Y, will drive improvements in the real estate market over the next 10 years.

Additionally, Lusk Center Chairman of the Board Stan Ross points out that immigrants were responsible for 25 percent of America's high-tech startup companies between 1995 and 2005 and 25 percent of American's international patents.

Despite a slight dip in immigration during the recession of 2007-09, the 2010 Census showed the U.S. population grew 9.7 percent to 308,745,538 with another 3.4 percent growth predicted for 2011. Ross points out that with its 77.4 million members, Gen Y (current 15-32 year olds) is roughly equal in size to the baby boomers (current 46-64 year olds), but more educated and diverse.

Ross believes that related demographic shifts will support economic growth and market improvements in the region and nationally:
  • Together, baby boomers and Gen Y comprise 50 percent of the population and will soon be part of the largest U.S. wealth transfer ever
  • 60 percent of Gen Y goes to college
  • More than 38 million U.S. residents (12 percent of the population) are foreign born
  • 33 percent of all PhDs and 57 percent of all post-doctorates in science and engineering were awarded by U.S. universities to foreign students
  • About 4.3 million Gen Y residents reached age 22 in 2010
As more of this group enters the workforce over the next 10 years, they will produce a massive increase in housing demand. However, Ross points out that Gen Y will be relatively prudent when it comes to real estate investment.

Gen Y will produce market potential for every residential product except senior housing, an assertion made by the Summer 2010 ULI/Lachman Associates Survey, which found 37 percent are renters; 35 percent are homeowners; 26 percent live with parents/siblings or student housing; and 2 percent live in mobile homes.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

What to Ask When Shopping for Homeowners Insurance

February 21, 2012 3:34 am

Being an informed consumer means not only reading your homeowners insurance policy closely, but also asking experts what constitutes the right type, and amount, of coverage you need for your home, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

A qualified insurance agent or insurance company representative can guide you in your choices. Here are six basic questions the I.I.I. advises everyone to ask before buying or renewing a homeowners insurance policy:
  1. How much would it cost to rebuild my home in its current location in the event of a total loss? Your homeowners insurance policy should cover the cost of building a new home from scratch. Your insurance agent or insurance company representative will have knowledge of your neighborhood, and familiarity with the construction materials used when your home was originally built and can accurately calculate this cost. In general, homeowners policies cover partial or total damages caused by fire, hurricane, hail, lightning or any other disaster listed in your policy. Flood and earthquake-related losses must be insured separately because both perils are excluded in standard homeowners insurance policies.
  2. How much is the personal property in my home worth in the event of a total loss? Your homeowners insurance policy should cover the cost of replacing all personal property (furniture, appliances, clothing) should it be stolen or destroyed by fire, hurricane or another insured disaster. Most companies provide personal property coverage equal to about 50 to 70 percent of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your dwelling. So if you have $100,000 worth of dwelling protection, most insurers would recommend $50,000 to $70,000 worth of personal property coverage. The best way to determine if this recommendation is appropriate for your specific situation is to conduct a home inventory. Consider using the I.I.I.’s Know Your Stuff® - Home Inventory app in the iTunes App Store.
  3. How much liability protection do I need? Liability covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you, or your family members, cause to other people. It also pays for damage caused by your pets. The liability portion of your policy pays for both the cost of defending you in court and any court awards—up to the limit of your policy. You are also covered not just in your home, but anywhere in the world. Liability limits generally start at about $100,000. Most insurance agents and company representatives recommend that you purchase at least $300,000 worth of liability protection. If you have significant assets and need more liability protection than is offered under the standard homeowners policy limits, ask your agent about umbrella liability.
  4. What level of additional living expense coverage do I need? The Additional Living Expenses (ALE) provision is found in standard homeowners insurance policies. It pays for the costs of living away from home if you cannot reside there due to damage from an insured disaster. ALE covers hotel bills, meals and other expenses over and above your customary living expenses. ALE coverage differs from company to company. Many policies provide coverage equal to about 20 percent of your dwelling protection. For example, if the structure of your home is insured for $100,000, you would have $20,000 of ALE coverage. Some companies impose a time limitation, such as 12 to 24 months.
  5. Should I buy a separate flood and/or earthquake insurance policy? There were numerous flooding events and earthquakes in the U.S. in 2011, but relatively few Americans had coverage for either type of natural disaster because these perils are excluded from standard homeowners insurance policies. Check with your insurance agent or insurance company representative to see whether you might need specialized coverage beyond your standard homeowners insurance policy.
  6. Do I qualify for any discounts? If you have smoke detectors, burglar alarms and/or dead-bolt locks in your home, you can often get a premium rate discount. Sophisticated sprinkler systems and alarms that ring at monitoring stations often reduce your homeowners insurance premium, too. Ask your agent or company representative about discounts available to you. If you are at least 55 years old and retired, for instance, you may qualify for a discount of up to 10 percent at some companies. If you have completely modernized your plumbing or electrical system recently, a few companies may provide a price break.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Building Financial Confidence

February 20, 2012 3:32 am

Taking control of your finances means taking the time to conduct an honest assessment of your financial picture. According to Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Consumer Advocate Eleanor Blayney, CFP®, peel back the layers of your financial life by gathering relevant financial documents, like your most recent tax return, your last paystub, and the latest statements for your retirement and investment accounts, and asking the following questions:
  • What is your gross and net income, and what are your expenses?
  • What do you have in terms of financial assets (savings and investment accounts, real estate, retirement plans, etc.)?
  • What are your debts, both in terms of amounts outstanding as well as what you pay each month?
  • What workplace benefits do you receive?
  • What insurance coverage do you have to protect your health, income, life, property, or need for physical assistance?
  • How are your assets titled and who gets them when you are no longer here?
Answering all these questions at one time, in one place is a key first step to building a sound foundation for a financial plan. As Blayney explains, this exercise will give you a clear picture of your financial starting point so that you can set and meet your financial goals.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

How to Be Productive When Working from Home

February 20, 2012 3:32 am

According to an article in the Kansas City Star, there’s evidence suggesting that more and more employees are seeking opportunities to work from home, while many managers and business owners are still reluctant.

According to the Star, middle managers are fearful that allowing employees to work from home will adversely affect productivity. According to Martha Jenkins, however, this does not necessarily have to be true. Jenkins and her company, Jenkins Coaching, offer practical advice to small business owners and contractors who work from home, helping them make the best use of their time.

According to Jenkins, clear communication and well-understood expectations are essential for making home-based employment work. She offers the following five tips for maximizing the work-from-home experience:
  1. Ensure you know what your employer’s expectations are: See to it that there are no unanswered questions about work hours, breaks, company equipment, and so forth.
  2. Ensure that your results are communicated to your employer: Working long hours will not matter if your boss is not aware of what you accomplish.
  3. Set up an effective work space: Make sure you have a work area that is free of distractions and is also comfortable and separate from the rest of your house.
  4. Establish boundaries with your family and friends: Make sure they are aware of the demands of working from home.
  5. Assess your progress on a regular basis: Record your achievements and mark your progress along the way, and make regular evaluations to your work habits.
Jenkins says working from home is ultimately successful when it is treated like a job. “In order to convince an employer you are serious about it, the bottom line is to behave in as professional a manner as possible.”

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Quick and Cost-Effective Home Updates

February 20, 2012 3:32 am

These days, every homeowner is looking for cost-effective ways to keep their homes fresh and updated. The following DIY home improvement and clean-up suggestions from the experts at Grime Boss will help you touch up your home without spending a fortune:

Repaint the walls

One great way to update your home without having to replace carpeting or furniture is to refresh walls with a fresh coat of paint. Determine the amount of paint needed by using an online calculator. For an inexpensive and quick project, simply update the paint on doors, cabinets and crown molding, rather than the walls. Likewise, you can paint an accent wall along a hallway, or within your kitchen or living room, rather than the entire space.
Replace hardware
If you'd love to renovate, but it's simply not in the budget for this year, make small updates now that you can incorporate into later construction projects. One quick trick is to replace the hardware in highly trafficked areas, such as the kitchen or the bathroom. Replace cabinet handles or knobs and drawer pulls. While replacing hardware, make sure to give your door hinges and drawer tracks a good oiling to prevent squeaking.
Install shelving in the garage
Who couldn't use extra storage space? For many, additional storage may mean looking beyond the house to the garage. Find a variety of storage solutions that fit within your budget—from finishing rod racks to cabinets and overhead ceiling-mounted shelving—at a variety of retail stores.

Source: www.grimeboss.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

MBA Survey: Delinquencies and Foreclosures Decline

February 17, 2012 3:26 am

The delinquency rate for mortgage loans on one-to-four-unit residential properties decreased to a seasonally adjusted rate of 7.58 percent of all loans outstanding as of the end of the fourth quarter of 2011, a decrease of 41 basis points from the third quarter of 2011, and a decrease of 67 basis points from one year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) National Delinquency Survey. The non-seasonally adjusted delinquency rate decreased five basis points to 8.15 percent this quarter from 8.20 percent last quarter.

The percentage of loans on which foreclosure actions were started during the fourth quarter was 0.99 percent, down nine basis points from last quarter and down 28 basis points from one year ago. The delinquency rate includes loans that are at least one payment past due but does not include loans in the process of foreclosure. The percentage of loans in the foreclosure process at the end of the fourth quarter was 4.38 percent, down five basis points from the third quarter and 26 basis points lower than one year ago. The serious delinquency rate, the percentage of loans that are 90 days or more past due or in the process of foreclosure, was 7.73 percent, a decrease of 16 basis points from last quarter, and a decrease of 87 basis points from the fourth quarter of last year.

The combined percentage of loans in foreclosure or at least one payment past due was 12.63 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, a 10 basis point decrease from last quarter and was 107 basis points lower than a year ago.

In terms of changes since last quarter, on a seasonally adjusted basis, the overall delinquency rate decreased for all loan types except FHA loans. The seasonally adjusted delinquency rate decreased 20 basis points to 4.12 percent for prime fixed loans and decreased 151 basis points to 9.22 percent for prime ARM loans. For subprime loans, the delinquency rate decreased 157 basis points to 19.67 percent for subprime fixed loans and decreased 267 basis points to 22.40 percent for subprime ARM loans. VA loans also saw a decline, with the delinquency rate decreasing three basis points to 6.55, while the delinquency rate for FHA loans increased 27 basis points to 12.36.

The percent of loans in foreclosure, also known as the foreclosure inventory rate, decreased from last quarter to 4.38 percent. The foreclosure inventory rate for prime fixed loans declined four basis points to 2.52 percent and the rate for prime ARM loans decreased 33 basis points from last quarter to 8.72 percent. For subprime loans, the rate for subprime ARM loans decreased 56 basis points to 22.17 percent and the rate for subprime fixed loans decreased 17 basis points to 10.65. In contrast, the foreclosure inventory rate for FHA loans increased 27 basis points to 3.54 while the rate for VA loans increased 12 basis points to 2.37.

The non-seasonally adjusted foreclosure starts rate decreased seven basis points for prime fixed loans to 0.62 percent, 33 basis points for prime ARM loans to 1.83 percent, 17 basis points for subprime fixed to 2.33 percent and 86 basis points for subprime ARMs to 3.79 percent. The foreclosure starts rate increased 10 basis points for FHA loans to 0.88 percent and four basis points for VA loans to 0.60 percent.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Boost Your Open-House Attendance

February 17, 2012 3:26 am

While marketing your home in today’s real estate environment often means a variety of tech-savvy approaches, the value of a traditional Open House cannot be overlooked. While prospective buyers may have narrowed down their choices over the Internet, they will still want to tour a home before making an offer.

From Newton, Mass. REALTOR® Jim Lowenstern, here are some great strategies for maximizing your open house experience.
  • Make the open house a community event. Invite the neighborhood to talk about the school system or other current events affecting the community. By opening your doors to invite people in for another reason than just to view your home, you can raise awareness about your listing while helping to unite the community on important issues. Be careful to stay away from political issues, however. There are many neutral issues such as neighborhood watch or a nonprofit organization that can be highlighted instead.
  • Invite a speaker. A great way to stand out from other open houses is to offer a guest speaker like a home stager or general contractor. If people are looking to buy, they’re usually in the process of selling, so hiring a home stager to talk about DIY staging techniques is a great way to get serious buyers through your door.
  • Don’t forget to properly market your open house. A mainstay for my company is the use of social media and email blasts to get the word out about any of the events we sponsor. Ask your agent what he or she is doing to get the word out about your home. It’s good advice to plan a marketing strategy with your agent before you hire them so that expectations are clear from the beginning.
  • Always provide refreshments. A hot cup of coffee and fresh baked goods can go a long way when it comes to developing a following to your open houses. On top of that, goodies will help keep prospective buyers at your showing longer. Some local restaurants will give you a discount if you help them get the word out about their business. If they have a menu, maybe you can offer a stack on your refreshment table.
  • Always add to your database. Raffle off a gift certificate to attendees that will share their business card or contact information with you. Keep a running mailing list of the folks that attend so you can easily keep them in the loop if there’s an offer or a price change.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Less Home, More Impact

February 17, 2012 3:26 am

The building industry is placing increased focus on designing smaller homes, but with maximum impact.

According to an article by Claire Easley, senior editor at Builder, recent presentations at the International Builders’ Show discussed the trend toward less square footage but greater emphasis on maximizing space for lifestyle purposes.

As Easley’s article states, the trick to getting smaller homes right, according to consultant Gale Steves who spoke at the show, is to not only use every space in the home, but also to customize the allocation of space so that the owners’ priorities are reflected in where square footage is bestowed.

Building experts agree that today’s buyer wants a home with flexible space—a dining room that can easily be converted to a home office, for example. Or, for those in need of a complete home office, a spare room can be outfitted with a Murphy bed, so that it can act as a work space most of the time while accommodating guests when necessary.

Easley’s article also points out that homebuyers are shying away from redundant spaces, such as an eat-in kitchen and a formal dining room, and that builders are placing greater emphasis on areas of the home that are truly used the most, such as a side-door entrance as opposed to a front door that’s rarely used. Even “forgotten spaces,” such as hallways, can be transformed into useful and/or eye-catching areas by turning them into photo galleries or designing them with built-in storage cabinets.

Not to be overlooked, the smaller-home trend also has significant green implications, as builders strive to create a less-is-more environment with features such as WaterSense appliances that use less water while still looking as good and operating as well as other products.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:
TwitterFacebookLinkedin